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Podcast 2019
Middle Kingdom Podcasts (2005-2017)

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The Language Company
Timothy M. Leonard's books on Goodreads
A Century Is Nothing A Century Is Nothing
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The Language Company The Language Company
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Subject to Change Subject to Change
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Ice girl in Banlung Ice girl in Banlung
ratings: 2 (avg rating 4.50)

Finch's Cage Finch's Cage
ratings: 2 (avg rating 3.50)

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Ice Girl in Banlung

  It’s fucking hysterical.

  Now and then mean the same in Ratanakiri, Cambodian animist jungle languages.

  Leo is incognito and invisible perusing the Wild West. It is replete with wandering literary outlaws, animists, shamans and 25,000 natives. Rambunctious young Banlung cowboys and cowgirls dance 125cc machines through spiraling red dust.

 How long have you been here, said Rita a 12-year old girl cutting and selling ice along a red road.

  All day. I started in China. I walked to Vietnam. Then Laos. I’ll stay here awhile. We can talk.

  Ok, she said cutting crystals. Is a day long enough to process a sensation and form an impression? Is it long enough to gather critical mass data about the diversity and evolution of humans in this total phenomena? My name is Rita.

  Good to meet you. I’m Leo the Lionhearted. Yes, if you slow down. How is life here?

  I work, I breed, I get slaughtered. This is my fate. My fate is a machete slashing through jungles. Fate and destiny are two sides of the same coin.  Janus.

Yeah, yeah are two of my favorite lazy words. She smiled. Especially when I am talking with illiterate zombies. They are same word. I spit them out twice at light speed. You accent the last consonant, drawing it out like a sigh, a final breath a whisper.

Y-e-a-hhhhh. It’s crazy English believe you me. Impressive, eh? I can also say OK twice with a rising sound on the k sounding like a meaning I understand without internal meaning or personal truth-value. It’s vague. Why be precise? Many people have conversations using abstract metaphors. Ok? Ok?

 Ok. Address the very low literacy rate.

  Hello, literacy rate, how are you, she said.

  I am well and speaking with improved elocution. My English is getting better. I know my English is not grammatically correct but I know my English is fluent. The more I see the less I know.

  Well said, said Ice Girl. Someone said literacy means reading and writing.

  I doubt it, said Literacy, Who needs reading and writing? Humans need food, sex, air, water, shelter, clothing and red dust. Hope is in last place. In fact, hope may be the greatest evil because it’s a myth. It’s the last thing that dies.

  Let’s not have this conversation in the abstract, said Ice Girl, sawing cold. I love myth, fiction, truth and inventing stories.

 I thought you said eating and fighting, said Literacy. You must be fucking crazy. My survival depends on eating and fighting. Reading and writing is for idiots. Millions never learn how to write, let alone scribble stories. No chance. No money. Poor people see education and school as a waste of time and money.

Education and medicine are expensive.

 I see, said Ice Girl. When I write my stories filled with immediate direct sense impressions and precise details they lose their magic. They are like ice. Ice loses its essence in the big picture. Existence precedes essence. It’s lost between heart-mind-hand-tool-paper. Spoken stories lose their edge fast. Spoken words float around looking for a character, like plot.

 Too many people talk out their stories. Lost in the telling. Lost tales float around looking for ears. Talking kills and rejuvenates magic and mystery. Ghost stories.

 World tribes memorize chants, rhythms, songs, tales and star trails with a side order of red dust. You never hear a kid say, Let’s take the day off and be creative.

 Here’s my secret. I look for a literary agent. Someone said they help writers. I sent one a query. One wrote me a letter. I will share it with you later. I write at night. During the day I’m busy with school and selling ice. If they ask me I will send them a manuscript. Maybe they will love it. Maybe they’ll find a publisher with a big marketing budget and the rest is history as they say. If not I’ll be independent and publish it myself. Ice is my life and I will never give it up. Besides writing, laughing, loving and living, it’s my life.

  Wow, that’s lovely, said Leo.

  Yes, she said, I follow my bliss. If it’s not in your heart, it’s not in your head. I’ll tell you about the agent later.

  A man arrived on a broken motorcycle. She gave him a blue plastic bag of ice. He gave her Real currency.

  Sure. I follow my blisters, laughed Leo.

  Where are you staying, she asked.

  I don’t have a home. I live in small houses along the road. For now I sleep at Future Bright.

  I know it. The woman owner smiles and lies at the same time.

 What’s the difference between hearing and listening, Leo asked?.

98% are asleep with their eyes open, she said. They don’t know and don’t care. It’s endemic.  They look without understanding. The remaining 2% are dead and long gone.

She opened her notebook. She spilled red ink on white paper. Red is a lucky color of wealth and prosperity. Living in a red dust town brings everyone good luck.

  Tell me about your visionary skills, said Leo.

  I am ahead of the future. The day after tomorrow belongs to me. I connect the dots forward. I practice detached discernment. My job is to pay attention to direct immediate experience, get it down and make sense of it later.

People here live in a perpetual disconnect. They are talking monkeys looking for a place to happen. They can’t focus. Their attention span is ZERO. Like Year 0 in 1975 before I was born. No attention span? No problem.

  How about your town, asked Leo.

 Red dust roads in Banlung are paved with blue Zircon and Black Opals (nill) reflecting Ratanakiri, or “Gem Mountain.” Rich city women wear blue Zircon, gold necklaces, rings, bracelets, sparkle bling. Rural women do not wear this wealth.

Married women wear red bead strings. They fashion yellow, red, blue, green, glittering plastic bangles on necks and wrists.

  Here it’s about food and honoring Earth spirits. Animists believe taking stones harms the spirits, creating an imbalance in the natural order of things.

  Thanks for Life Lesson #3, said Leo. I’m going to have a look-see. See you later.

Ice Girl in Banlung


Puppet Masters in Tibet

The endless Tibetan knot is the cycle of existence, said a monk.

Existence is attachment, loss and suffering. Grasping is suffering. Suffering is an illusion.

You either let go or get dragged along.

Regrets and fears are monkey mind movies.

Pure joy, compassion, gratitude and forgiveness are clear.

Easy to say, hard to do be do be do.

Work like you don’t need the money. Dance like nobody’s looking. Love like your heart’s never been broken.

Nothing behind. Everything ahead, said Meditation.

Chinese puppet leaders in Lhasa informed monks they would increase patriotic re-education classes in monasteries. Re-education Through Reform, ideology, propaganda and fear-based thought control is the way comrades. We have Power and Control using fear and intimidation.

We wash your brain daily.

The Chinese, after looting and destroying 2,700 monasteries and killing millions in Tibet before, during and after the Cultural Revolution restricted the number of monks at the three major Lhasa monasteries, Sera, Drepung and Ganden. They recruited Tibetans as spies to live and work in monasteries.

This system proved effective from 1966-1976 when family members reported on each other neighbors and capitalist running dogs. It was a practical peoples’ campaign of fear and suspicion creating paranoia and ideological control.

Monks and nuns in monasteries who resisted or questioned this form of subtle or overt patriotic brainwashing risked imprisonment, torture and death. They knew what happened to monks and nuns at the notorious Drapchi Prison outside Lhasa.


“There are two kinds of suffering,” said a girl weaving wool carpets outside her yurt on the Tibetan plateau hearing wild blue rivers sing below mountains. “Suffering you run away from and suffering you face.”

Inside Drapchi, Chinese guards beat nuns and monks with rubber hoses filled with sand. They applied electric cattle prods to genitals, sending wire-cranked juice into skeletons, extracting screams.

“Denounce the Dalai Lama,” ordered an illiterate PLA soldier from Human Province. He tightened metal around a nun’s wrists until she screamed.


He wiped her blood off his broken glasses and increased pressure. Someone had to do this dull job.

“Save my face,” sang a Fujian university student, an innocent ignorant invisible victim of the one-child genocide policy. She wrung out a mop of spider webs creating water rainbows before swabbing a classroom.

15,001 students had failed higher-level exams for more prestigious institutions. They settled for this. No choice. She washed uneven crumbling cement floors with strands.

Operatic actors offstage fashioned animist death masks for a performance with a funeral formula.

“This is not a fucking rehearsal,” directed Altman. “Get to the verb.”

“Arrive on time, know your lines and wait for the check,” said the Tibetan weaver as radioactive light shafted mountains.

Rational speaking animals mumbled sounds, words, coalescing consonants, vowels and syllables.

Etyms dancing with atoms made up everything with axioms of choice. 



Myths Became Stories

Zeynep said, “I am a rose thorn and Winter Hawk. Wings instinct and heart. My razor talon tears meat from bones to feed my creative Hunger Angel.” - (Everything I Posess I Carry With Me)

“I am a cognitive psycho-neurolinguist,” said a gravedigger. “My specialty is languages. Lost tongues. Wandering deep in the Tarim Basin following the Silk Road through Central Asia I discovered the 4,000 year old Tocharian language and Afansievo culture. It was a proto-Indo European language with Celtic and Indian connections established by trade caravans and explorers. I suspect it is Qarasahr or IA based on an Iranian dialect.”

Mircea Eliade, a historian of religions said, “Myths tell what really happened. Myths suggest a reality that cannot be seen and examined. Myth is truth trying to escape from reality. A myth is a story of unknown origins, sacred stories based on fear and belief containing archetypical universal truths. They are in every place and no particular place.”

Marcus Aurelius - "Everything is only for a day, both that which remembers and that which is remembered."


History became legend.

Legend became myth.

Myth became story.

(What you wanted - Myth - Actuality)

This anthropological fact accompanied Lucky wandering among unfinished construction projects and abandoned manuscripts in China, Turkey, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos.

He joined millions of emaciated migrant refugees passing shattered bricks, broken hopes and strangling dangling cables connected to nothing in particular.

Shoddy incomplete dust dreams and quick profit schemes thrived where political thugs disguised as beauticians, missionaries and NGO social workers living in penthouses and driving Land Rovers exploited villages stealing land, rivers, mountains, children. Extorting money.

Their rule of law was a truncheon named GREED.


Sophisticated command and control procedures thrived. Corruption stole millions. Substandard schools pancaked 10,000+ children from one-child families in a Sichuan earthquake.

Garment factories in Dhaka crushed wage slave workers stitching designer labels at a discount.

In May 2014 an inefficient unregulated profit-oriented private coalmine in Soma, Turkey caught fire, exploded, burned and collapsed killing 301 miners.

The angry Teflon Prime Minister (now President) visited the disaster. “This is a fact of life for poor illiterate underpaid miner slaves. It happened in Britain in the 19th century,” he said to widows and families. An angry miner booed him. He slapped the miner. “If you boo the Prime Minister you get slapped.”

His aide, a frustrated soccer player wearing a suit of armor kicked a miner on the ground being held by police. Aide screamed, “Dissent is TERRORISM!”

The ruling AKP Justice and Development party said it was all a mistake: the mine explosion, slap and penalty kick.

Violence, denial and repression are a way of life here, said Zeynep the younger creating a myth.

The Language Company


Mandarin Duck - Cadiz, Spain

Omar remembered a daughter in Cadiz. Faith worked at Mandarin Duck selling paper and writing instruments. She practiced a calm stationary way.

“May I help you,” she said one morning greeting a bearded stranger. She knew he was a forcestero. His eyes linked their loneliness minus words. She averted her eyes. He was looking for quick painless intimacy and ink.

“I’d like a refill for this,” he said, unscrewing a purple cloud-writing instrument with a white peak.

Recognizing the Swiss rollerball writing tool she opened a cabinet and removed a boxes of thin and medium cartridges.

“One or many?” she said.

“Many. I don’t want to run dry in the middle of a simple true sentence.”

“I agree. There’s nothing more challenging than running empty while taking a line for a walk.”  

“Isn’t that the truth? Why run when you can walk? Are you a writer?”

“Isn’t everyone? I love watercolors, painting, drawing, sketching moistly.”


“I wet the paper first. It saturate colors with natural vibrancy.”

“With tears of joy or tears of sadness?”

“Depends on the sensation and the intensity of my feeling. What’s the difference? Tears are tears. The heart is a lonely courageous hunter.”

He twirled a peacock feather. Remembering Omar’s Mont Blanc 149 piston fountain pen, he said, “I also need a bottle of ink.”

“What color? We have black, blue, red. British racing green just came in.”

“Racing green! Cool. Hmm, let’s try it.” Omar would be pleased with this expedient color.

He switched subjects to seduce her with his silver tongue.

“Are you free after work? Perhaps we might share a drink and tapas? Perhaps a little mango tango?”

“I have other plans. I am not sexually repressed. I am liberated. I have a blind secret lover. Here you are,” she said handing him cartridges and inkbottle with a white mountain.

He paid with a handful of tears and a rose thorn. His ink stained fingers touched thin, fine and extra fine points of light. Faith and her extramarital merchandise were thin and beautiful. She was curious.

“If you don’t mind my asking,” she said. “How old are you?”

“Older than yesterday and younger than tomorrow.”

“I see.”

“It was nice meeting you. By the way, have you seen the film, Pan’s Labyrinth, written and directed by Guillermo Del Toro?”

“No, but I’ve heard about it. Something about our Civil War in 1944, repression and a young girl’s fantasy.”

“Yes, that’s right. It’s really a beautiful film on many levels. It reminded me of Alice in Wonderland.”

“Wow,” she said, “I loved that film, especially when Alice meets the Mad Hatter. Poor rabbit, always in a hurry, looking at his watch.”

“Funny you should mention time. A watch plays a small yet significant role in the Pan film.”

“Really? How ironic. I’ll have to see it.”

“Yes, it’ll be good for your spirit.”

He pulled out a Swizz Whizz Army stainless steel, water resistant Victoriabnoxious pocket watch.

“My, look at the time! Tick-tock. Gotta walk. Thanks for the ink. Create with passion.” He disappeared.

Faith sang a lonely echo. “Thanks. Enjoy your word pearls. Safe travels.”

Under the Banyan tree he sat on a park bench in weak sun, fed cartridges into a mirror and clicked off the safety. It was a rock n’ roll manifesto with a touch of razzmatazz jazz featuring Coltrane, Miles, Monk, Mingus and Getz to the verb.

A Century is Nothing


not true

interrupted Omar’s suicidal literary agent speaking through voice snail. It’s impossibly probable.

You make your own truth from embroidered lies.

I know everything and can say nothing about beginnings, arc, tension or sustaining a plot. Something has to happen to move it along with narrative flow, character development, conflict and action. Make me cry. Give me emotional honesty so I feel for the protagonist.

Grab me by the throat in the first clear short sentence.

Make me pay attention.

Give me a sharp emotional marketing hook hanging above a mainstream marketing platform in cheap plywood Asian brothels where evil greedy men with POWER threaten and violently abuse orphaned sex slave girls.

Where they buy them or steal them from poor families in China, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Burma, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka and season them for five years in rooms, use them, abuse them and discard them on the mean old street.

They are commodities like rice. Rich men buy virgins for $5,000 a pop. Open my legs. Plow the fertile soil between my legs. Open my feeble, nonchalant and passive innocent broken heart-mind. Throw in some Asian culture like Chinese opera, Indonesian gamelan music, 3-act dramas, ballet, The Art of the Fugue by Bach and dancing Apsara dancers on 8th century laterite Angkor Wat ruins being strangled by cotton wood roots.

Show me how superstitious evil men believe fucking a virgin gives them super strength enabling them to leap over tall virgins with a single organismic shudder. Give me a small organic boom-boom death in eight seconds. Get to the verb.

            “Ok, said Rita, an orphan in Cambodia and independent writer/publisher of Ice Girl in Banlung. “Unpleasant facts are littered through this work like lovers, countries, butterflies, natural phenomena, rice and hot sex.

            “Cambodians have been screwed by history, war, violence and predatory politicians. Let’s Make A Deal. Do the numbers. 15% (and rising) of Cambodia has been sold to China. They’ve invested $16.9 billion. They bought the government.

            “1.7 million out of 11m were massacred by human genocide animals. 40% of our land is filled with unexploded ordinance. Millions are illiterate. Millions are subsistence farmers. It is a rural agrarian society. They produce only what they need to survive. They eat, sleep, fuck and sit around.

"Milling around is an art form. Khmer are soft and kind. They have a good heart. They are not as mercenary as the Vietnamese. They drift through your sensation, perception and consciousness with the speed and grace of a cosmic Lepidoptera. The trick is to tolerate bland empty eyed star gazing starrers and hustlers with Patience, your great teacher.

            “Bored after five minutes they lose interest. Bye-bye butterfly. Let’s pretend to be exactly who we are. The Great Pretenders. Be careful who you pretend to be.”

 “Thank you Rita. Whew, what a mouthful,” said the blind literary agent.

            “Yeah,” said Rita. I spill sounds and smell metaphors. The human condition reads history and weeps. Create memory a form of history. Rewrite history.          

“Your memory is the world and the world is a village,” said the nerve agent. “Cry me a river. Build me a bridge. Get over it.”

            “I will, will you?” said Rita.

"Maybe baby. I have a question for Lucky.”

            “He’s here.”

            “What do you recall during the one-hour full body massage with blind Flower at Seeming Hands?”

            ”Her hands were all,” I said. “Her hands were water, air, earth and fire. Soft gentle sensations. Sensing, feeling her physical sense. Engaging all her senses. Touch is her essence. She knew my body, all the pressure points.”

            “Soft, medium or hard?” Flower asked.

            “During her therapeutic touch and go I considered this vignette. How I was looking for ideas and structure and formless form and literary vulgarity. I slowed down inside the labyrinth. A writer is a dwarf, invisible and must survive.”

            Flower whispered, “I don’t like sleeping alone. It’s fucking boring.”

            It’s easy to remember loving Flower’s soft, deep real tactile sensations. She knew how to please a stranger’s skin. She lived in the middle way. Her middle way is breathing, and awareness. Her middle way is acceptance and loving kindness. It is wisdom, patience and gratitude. Non-attachment. Flower is the essence between detachment and sentimentality.

            “Eat the world with your blind eyes,” she whispered.         

“Yes my Flower, yes.”

            “Dead or blind there’s no difference,” Flower said. “People who cause you difficulties, you should think of them as very valuable teachers because they provide you with the opportunity to develop patience.”

The Language Company